Disney + Drops episode ‘Simpsons’ features a Tiananmen Square Joke – The Hollywood Reporter

Disney+ users in Hong Kong noticed an episode of The Simpsons obviously missing.

The 16th season of Fox’s iconic animated show jumps from episode 11 to 13 as viewers in the city browse Disney’s flagship streaming service. The Missing Episode 12, first aired in 2005, happens to be Homer taking his family to China, where they visit Tiananmen Square and come across a sign that reads: “On this website, in 1989, nothing happened.”

It seems the episode has suffered from exactly the kind of censorship it was written to mock.

The censorship of such content would come as no surprise in mainland China, where any mention of the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy student protesters has been wiped from public speeches. declared for many decades. But the voluntary deletion of the episode in Hong Kong – especially when done by a major US media company – is a relatively new feature of civic life there.

The episode also follows the Simpsons as they visit the mummy of former leader Mao Zedong and come across a row of tanks in Beijing, a reference to the iconic “tank man” photograph taken during the war. 1989 student uprising.

Under Beijing’s overwhelming influence, the Hong Kong legislature passed a series of bills that undermine the city’s previous free speech laws. Last month, the legislature enacted a new law banning films deemed contrary to China’s national security interests – an intentionally ambiguous designation – from being shown or distributed in the city. Any person displaying an unauthorized film could face up to three years in prison and a $130,000 fine.

The content rules governing streaming services in Hong Kong are still unclear, although analysts believe it is only a matter of time before they are affected by the same restrictions doing. weakening the once vibrant film industry of the city and the international community of journalists. When asked in August whether the new film law would apply to online platforms, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Economic and Commercial Development told Hong Kong Free Press that “other” laws apply to the internet:”[TV] broadcasting and the Internet is subject to other applicable laws and regulations. Their spokesman said whether an act constitutes a crime will depend on its specific circumstances and evidence, and cannot be committed individually or in general.

However, Netflix continues to host some content that will inevitably be banned from showing in theaters under the new law. Still streaming on Netflix in Hong Kong Joshua: Teen vs. Super power, director Joe Piscatella’s documentary about the Hong Kong student activist who became the face of the mass pro-democracy movement that brought the city to a standstill in 2014.

“The new cinema rules in Hong Kong will have a chilling effect,” said Piscatella. The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year when the outline of a new censorship law was released.

He added: “One of the last vestiges of free speech in Hong Kong is now gone. The result is self-censorship by filmmakers, who now have to question what could be causing the breach of new regulations and increasing scrutiny by financiers and distributors. , who must now also consider that question. “

The Hollywood Reporter Have reached out to Disney for comment.

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